Tuesday, 19 March 2013



HL Deb 20 July 1964 vol 260 cc454-71 454 455

§ 3.19 p.m.

§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Zambia Independence Bill, has consented to place Her prerogative and interest, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.

My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time. The Zambia Independence Bill makes provision for the ending of Her Majesty's protection over Northern Rhodesia on October 24 of this year, on which date the territory will become the independent sovereign Republic of Zambia, when, at her Government's request, we look forward to welcoming Zambia as a member of the Commonwealth. Northern Rhodesia has enjoyed internal self-government since January this year. During this period the country has continued its steady development, and I am sure the House will agree that Dr. Kaunda and his Cabinet have displayed an impressive combination of energy and responsibility, and have demonstrated their ability in wide fields.

Shortly after the territory became self-governing, Her Majesty's Government were in touch with the Government of Northern Rhodesia in regard to the further steps necessary to move forward to full independence, and it was eventually agreed that the Independence Conference should open in London on May 5. The Report of that Conference has been published as a White Paper (Cmnd. 2365). In all its sessions, except the first and the last, the Conference met under the chairmanship of Mr. Richard Hornby, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary. As some noble Lords may be aware, tributes have been paid in another place to the way in which he helped forward the work of the Conference and I wish to associate myself fully and most warmly with these sentiments. With the exception of Cyprus, which was of course sui generis, 456 all our territories have hitherto gone into independence with a monarchical form of government, and with the Queen represented by a Governor-General. We are, therefore, breaking new ground in that Zambia, will move straight from its present status as a protectorate to that of an independent sovereign republic. I am quite sure that this should not be taken in any way as an indication that our friends in Northern Rhodesia have any antipathy to the connection with the Crown. Rather it should be seen as a realistic acceptance, right at the outset, of what many African countries have found, after only a brief period of independence, the medium best adapted to their political aspirations.

I might perhaps mention at this point that Dr. Kaunda asked Her Majesty whether she would agree to be represented at the Zambia independence celebrations. Her Majesty asked Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal to undertake this representation, which she very gladly agreed to do.

The Constitution of Zambia will provide for an "executive" President. There may be those who feel that, as this new Constitution is one which does not embody the particular checks and balances which we enjoy in this country, for that reason it is less than democratic and thus a step on the road to eventual erosions of liberty. I feel that any such fears would be without foundation. I think it should be remembered that there are to be a number of important features in the Constitution, amendments freely and readily agreed by the Northern Rhodesian Government, which are specifically designed to preserve the liberty and rights of the individual, to limit the powers of the President, and to ensure that the Judiciary will be independent of control by the Executive. Perhaps most significantly, the Bill of Rights in the present Constitution is to be carried forward into the Independence Constitution. It will be entrenched by a special amendment procedure requiring a referendum, and there will be special provisions for its enforcement. The Constitutional Council which was established by the self-governing Constitution is not to be retained. The Council has, in fact, never met; but it has been agreed that broadly parallel functions shall be exercised, if needed, by a special Judiciary tribunal.

457 The Judiciary is to be independent, and any amendment of the provisions in the Constitution relating to the judiciary will also require the referendum process. The control of public prosecutions is to be in the hands of an independent Director of Public Prosecutions, whose relation to the Attorney-General will be comparable with the corresponding relationship in this country. There is to be a Public Service Commission for the Civil Service and there will also be a Judicial Service Commission. This new Constitution will contain many features which do not conform exactly with the Westminster pattern, but I sincerely believe that it is a workable Constitution to meet the special circumstances of Zambia. Most important, because it reflects in essentials the wishes of its people and has been freely negotiated, it is a Constitution which we may be confident will continue.

I turn now to the position of Barotseland. There has been a special relationship, as many noble Lords may know, between Her Majesty's Government and the Litunga of Barotseland since the earliest days of the British connection with Central Africa. The British protection of Barotseland has been exercised since 1911 through the Government of Northern Rhodesia, and as that Government has greatly extended its services generally through the whole territory it has similarly provided increased services in Barotseland.

The approach of independence made it necessary to consider new arrangements; and, following talks last summer with the then First Secretary of State, the Litunga agreed to take part in discussions with the Government of Northern Rhodesia on the question of the future relationship of Barotseland with Northern Rhodesia. Following lengthy negotiations the two parties agreed to sign a new agreement to be known as the Barotseland Agreement of 1964, which would replace all the old agreements and which would regulate Barotseland's special position as an integral part of the new Zambia. This agreement was signed in London by the Litunga and Dr. Kaunda on May 18, and has been published as a White Paper (Cmnd. 2366). This was a freely negotiated settlement, and one which will provide very considerable safeguards for the special interests of Barotseland.

458 As we know, independence presents many economic problems, and Zambia will require both advice and, despite its copper revenues, substantial economic assistance not only from Britain but from other developed countries. The British Government have recently announced a gift of £2¾ million to assist the Northern Rhodesia Government with the funding of the short-term debt which was taken over from the Federation at the beginning of this year, and in addition a long-term loan of £3 million, to enable the territory to provide its share of the compensation for overseas officials in Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service. There are also to be talks this coming autumn on aid for general development purposes.

Before commenting on the clauses of the Bill which is now before your Lordships' House, I should like to pay very warm tribute, in which I know noble Lords on all sides of the House will join, to the work carried out by the Northern Rhodesia Civil Service. This Service, together with the Northern Rhodesia Police, has long had an exceptionally high reputation for efficiency and devotion to duty, and I am glad to say that the figures we now have available indicate that a very large proportion of the expatriate officers in these services have shown their readiness to continue to serve the Government of Zambia after independence and to make their contribution to the building of the new Constitution.

Noble Lords may have noted, perhaps with some relief, that an Explanatory Memorandum has been provided with this Bill. It has, as noble Lords know, been customary in the past not to attach these to Independence Bills, and I hope that noble Lords will find this a helpful, if modest, innovation. Clause 1 establishes the Republic of Zambia on October 24, 1964. Clause 2(1) provides for the continuance of existing law until otherwise provided by the Parliament of Zambia. Clauses 3 and 4 deal with nationality matters consequent on Zambian independence and are on the same lines as the Malawi Independence Bill. This is the usual pattern when a British protectorate becomes an independent Commonwealth country. Clause 3(1) adds Zambia to the Commonwealth countries listed in Section 1(3) of the British Nationality Act, 1949. Zambian 459 citizens will therefore be British subjects or Commonwealth citizens in United Kingdom law. This clause also provides that Northern Rhodesia will cease to be a protectorate for the purposes of the British Nationality Acts. The effect of Clause 3(2) is that persons who are British-protected persons because of a connection with Northern Rhodesia will not lose that status until they acquire citizenship of Zambia. Clause 3(3) withdraws citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies from persons who acquire Zambia citizenship on October 24, 1964, and is subject to the exceptions contained in Clause 4. Clause 4 preserves the citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies of persons who become citizens of Zambia on independence, but who have a substantial connection with the United Kingdom, by which I mean any person who himself, or whose father or paternal grandfather, was born, registered or naturalised in the United Kingdom or a remaining colony.

Clause 5 enables Her Majesty in Council to provide for the jurisdiction, powers and procedure of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in respect of appeals from the courts of Zambia. Provision may be made under this clause, both in the law of the United Kingdom and in Zambian law, to give effect to the arrangements agreed at the Independence Conference by which the Judicial Committee can be used as an appeal court for Zambia. Clause 6 deals with appeals to the Queen in Council from the Court of Appeal for Northern Rhodesia which are pending immediately before independence. If arrangements are made between the Government of the territory and the British Government for continuing and disposing of these pending appeals, an Order in Council may be made by Her Majesty to give effect to these arrangements. Clause 7 terminates the divorce jurisdiction of courts in Zambia in respect of British subjects domiciled in the United Kingdom.

Clause 8 terminates all rights and obligations of the Crown and the Government of Northern Rhodesia which arise under any of the existing agreements, undertakings or understandings with the Litunga of Barotseland. I would add that the clause does not of course affect the Barotseland Agreement of 1964, to which 460 I alluded a moment ago. Clause 9 enables any necessary adaptations to be made in United Kingdom legislation consequent on the independence of Zambia. Clause 10 makes supplementary provisions in respect of Orders in Council made under Clauses 6 or 9 of this Bill or other Acts of Parliament. Clause 11 provides a Short Title for the Bill, and repeals certain provisions of the British Nationality Act, 1958, which become obsolete with the dissolution of the Federation.

Before I conclude, I should like to express, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, the great pleasure we have in being able to bring forward this measure. We wish the Government and people of Zambia a prosperous and peaceful future. We sincerely hope that the present warm and friendly relations we enjoy with Northern Rhodesia will continue with the new State of Zambia. Zambia is the latest addition to the family of the Commonwealth. It will be the nineteenth country of the Commonwealth. I know that I have the support of all Members of your Lordships' House in wishing Zambia, in this final step on the road to full sovereignty, every success in future.

§ I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.

§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Duke of Devonshire.)

§ 3.32 p.m.


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